PROPOSAL WOULD AMEND 1971 WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES AND BURROS ACT AND AFFORD FEWER PROTECTIONS TO WILD HORSES IN BLM CAPTIVITY.
WASHINGTON, D.C, May 25, 2016 – On May 24 The Cloud Foundation (TCF) sent letters to the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior stating: “The Cloud Foundation urges your opposition to dramatic policy changes affecting the Wild Horse and Burro Program as contained in Section 110 of the Administration’s FY 2017 Budget Request for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). We urge that these policy changes be rejected during the Subcommittee Markup on the FY 2017 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill this Wednesday, May 25.”
BLM’s proposal would allow for unlimited transfers of wild horses to other Federal, State and local government agencies for use as work animals. The transfer of Wild horses under the provision would be unlimited, would be subject to immediate transfer of ownership (instead of a one-year wait required by the Act *) and the horses would lose their status as a wild free-roaming horse or burro as defined by the Act.
“Agency applications to adopt wild horses should include the type of ‘work’ for which the animals will be used,” states Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of TCF. “We see no reason for eliminating the one year trial period before title is granted. It protects the animals from potentially going into situations that will end badly.” TCF also recommends an evaluation process with strict oversight before any transfer of title to agencies occurs after one year.
The letter goes on to outline why the Proposal by the BLM sets a dangerous precedent:
- This legislative language would allow the transfer without any limitations and there is great concern these wild horses will end up being sold to slaughter as they would lose their protections under the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.
- The proposal indicates its desire to expand use of permanent sterilization technologies.
- The Cloud Foundation is alarmed that BLM is proposing dangerous sterilization surgeries on wild horse mares, operations considered risky even for domestic mares in a sterile environment.
- Safe contraception alternatives have been available since the late 1980s in the case of PZP, a one-year infertility vaccine, and since the 2000s in the case of the two-year immunocontraception vaccine known as PZP-22. Because most wild horse herds are too small to be considered safely viable, the reversibility of both vaccines is important. However, mares given the vaccine 5-7 years in a row will be permanently infertile.
- Less than 1% of the BLM budget is allocated to non-invasive fertility vaccines for herd management. Instead BLM plans to spend $11 million for sterilization research
- The National Academies of Science, in their 2013 in-depth analysis of the Wild horse and Burro Program, considers two of the three most promising methods of fertility control to be PZP vaccines, but BLM has ignored these recommendations.
BLM claims wild horses in holding are busting their budget, yet fails to address economic tools that have been at their disposal for decades to keep horses out of holding and on their legal ranges in the West. The Cloud Foundation reiterates its strong opposition to any budget changes which would impact the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
*The current adoption agreement contains the following language which TCF feels should apply to agency adoptions as well. “Under penalty of prosecution for violating 18 U.S.C. 1001, which makes it a Federal crime to make false statements to any agency of the United States, I hereby state that I have no intent to sell this wild horse or burro for slaughter or bucking stock, or for processing into commercial products, within the meaning of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., and regulations 43 CFR 4700.0-5(c).”
TCF Letter to Appropriations Sub Committee